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House committee to hold hearing on FAFSA issues


House lawmakers will examine how the botched roll-out of the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) has affected students, families and colleges in a hearing next week.

Witnesses for the April 10 hearing of the House higher education subcommittee have not been announced. But lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have criticized the launch of the new FAFSA, which has been beset by repeated issues and delays and is the subject of two Government Accountability Office investigations. This is the first of what could be many hearings on what the subcommittee calls the “FAFSA Fail.”

“The Education Department’s FAFSA rollout has been defined by poor communication, negligence, and incompetence that has wreaked havoc on the entire university system,” said Utah representative Burgess Owens, the Republican chair of the subcommittee, in a news release. “FAFSA delays have left millions of students in limbo, unsure of their academic futures and unable to access additional guidance or assistance.”

After the department started processing applications last month, months later than usual, financial aid professionals quickly spotted a number of errors. In some cases, tax information was transferred incorrectly onto the forms, in others, the department miscalculated students’ aid eligibility. The errors will mean students have to wait longer to hear from colleges about how much financial aid they can expect to receive.

Florida representative Frederica Wilson, the senior Democrat on the subcommittee, said in a news release the lawmakers want to get to the bottom of the delays and glitches.

“As policymakers put the education architecture in place, administrators must ensure seamless execution,” Wilson said. “This is not happening, and we should have a clearer understanding of why. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses on this critical topic. We must remove obstacles that prevent students from accessing education.”



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